History of Peru


The pre-history of Peru can be traced back to around 20,000 years ago with the arrival of the first settlers who were primarily hunters and gatherers. Not much is known about these early inhabitants except for a few ruins and examples of cave paintings at Toquepala (Tacna, 7600 BC) and houses in Chilca (Lima, 5800 BC) left by them. Groups, such as the Chimu, Nazca, Chavin, and Tiahuanaco, migrated from the north around 1250 BC and settled along the Peruvian coast and highlands. The history of Peru is intrinsically linked with the Inca Empire which extended from Northern Ecuador to central Chile.

Inca Empire

The Inca Empire was centered at Cuzco and was known to be the most advanced ancient civilization in South America. The Incas were originally a war-like tribe who resided in a semi-arid area of the southern Sierra, before they moved into the Cusco Valley. The Incas had developed a civilization and administration that was quite advanced in many respects. From their economy and wealth distribution to their artistic demonstration and architecture, all were of the highest order. Owing to the rich deposits of gold and silver within the Inca territory, it became the target of Spanish imperial aspirations in the early 16 th century. The reign of the Inca Empire ended with the Spanish invasion under Francisco Pizarro and his troops in 1532.

Spanish Invasion

The Spanish troop under Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532 and the following year they captured the Incan capital at Cusco. By 1542 the Spanish had consolidated their control with the establishment of the Vice-regency of Peru. A new set of rules governing the colonial economy were laid down by Francisco de Toledo. The vice-regency in Peru constituted an area which extended from Panama down to Tierra del Fuego, until the 17 th century. Lima was founded by Pizarro in 1535 which soon developed into the capital of viceroyalty of Peru. Lima had become the center of Spanish expansion and power of western South America. The Spanish colonial rule ended in the early 19 th century, following an uprising led by European (Creole) inhabitants.

Peruvian Independence

The independence movement in Peru was led by Jose de San Martin from Argentina. The country was declared independent in 1821 by San Martin and Simon Bolivar of Venezuela ended the War of Independence in 1824. Subsequent to the attainment of independence from Spanish rule, Peru experienced a long period of instability with acute economic crisis and territorial disputes.

Towards the beginning of the 20 th century, the country began to regain its stability. The new Peruvian president Fernando Belaunde introduced several reforms for the development of economic and social conditions of the people.


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